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Posted: December 1, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of November 29, 2020.

According to the data, 104,256 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of 0.71 percent from the 103,523 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 1,369,104 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through November 29, the data shows. That marks an increase of 0.29 percent from the day prior.

Since mid-October, the IHS has been providing additional information about the spread of the coronavirus within the system. The cumulative percent positive column shows the historical COVID-19 infection rate, meaning the number of tests that have returned positive since the onset of the pandemic.

Based on the cumulative percent positive, the highest rates have been seen in the Navajo Area (14.2 percent), the Phoenix Area (12.9 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (10.1 percent), the Albuquerque Area (9.9 percent) and  the Great Plains Area (9.5 percent). The first two regions include the state of Arizona, indicating a disproportionate toll of COVID-19 in the state.

The 7-day rolling average positivity column offers a more contemporary look at the impact of the coronavirus. The data shows where COVID-19 cases have been increasing recently.

Based on the 7-day rolling average positivity, five regions have seen dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases. They are: the Great Plains Area (24.2 percent), the Albuquerque Area (23.6 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (20.7 percent), the Billings Area (19 percent) and the Navajo Area (17.6 percent).

Overall, 8.2 percent of IHS tests have been positive since the onset of the pandemic, the data shows. The 7-day average has grown higher over the last few weeks and now stands at 14.5 percent.

The data, however, is incomplete. While 100 percent of facilities run directly by the IHS are reporting data, only 33 percent of tribally managed facilities and 44 percent of urban Indian organizations are doing the same, the agency has told Indianz.Com.

The agency also provided to Indianz.Com the service population for 2019: 2,562,290. Based on that figure, 53.4 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives have been tested for the coronavirus since the IHS began reporting data in March.

The IHS user population, on the other hand, is a much smaller number. As of 2019, 1,662,834 American Indians and Alaska Natives have lived within a service delivery area and have received health care at an IHS or tribal facility during the previous three years.

Based on the user population, 82.3 percent of Native Americans have been tested for the coronavirus since the IHS began reporting data in March.

COVID-19 Cases by IHS Area

Data are reported from IHS, tribal, and urban Indian organization facilities, though reporting by tribal and urban programs is voluntary. Data reflect cases reported to the IHS through 11:59 pm on November 29, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska 355,452 7,228 301,582 2.3% 4.3%
Albuquerque 69,306 5,462 49,973 9.9% 23.6%
Bemidji 94,060 6,262 85,366 6.8% 10.9%
Billings 78,964 6,230 68,629 8.3% 19.0%
California 32,312 2,209 28,531 7.2% 8.6%
Great Plains 106,435 10,491 100,196 9.5% 24.2%
Nashville 41,088 2,935 37,460 7.3% 5.6%
Navajo 152,947 18,021 108,798 14.2% 17.6%
Oklahoma City 269,760 26,565 237,565 10.1% 20.7%
Phoenix 109,102 14,043 94,456 12.9% 18.6%
Portland 49,344 3,913 44,559 8.1% 12.3%
Tucson 10,334 897 9,339 8.8% 12.7%
TOTAL 1,369,104 104,256 1,166,454 8.2% 14.5%

* Cumulative percent positive and 7-day rolling average positivity are updated three days per week.

Source: (Indian Health Service)

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